Press Release

At The Syracuse Housing Authority, Gillibrand Announces New Legislation To Connect Local At-Risk Youth With Job Opportunities

May 6, 2011

Syracuse, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today stood with Syracuse community leaders to announce new legislation aimed at increasing employment among at-risk youth. The Urban Jobs Act would provide federal funding to nonprofit organizations, allowing them to carry out programming to prepare youth for employment, particularly benefiting youth that have dropped out of high school or have been subject to any stage of the criminal justice process.

“Supporting education and training for our youth is a smart investment that will help rebuild our local economy and pay dividends over the long term,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This program would give organizations in Syracuse the tools and resources they need to help city youth prepare for future jobs, find employment opportunities, and reach their full potential. The skills they would acquire through this program are invaluable. Helping our youth compete in the difficult economy will have a lasting, positive impact on our community.”

“I commend Senator Gillibrand for introducing this legislation and for her understanding of the serious problems our urban youth face,” State Senator David J. Valesky (D-Oneida) said. “Preparing our young people to enter the labor force is critical to their success and to the economic success of our cities and region, and this legislation will provide much needed assistance.”

“In Central New York, the Urban Jobs Act of 2011 will provide the tools for local non-profits to help prepare at-risk youth with job training and education, in addition, providing job opportunities, to those who have dropped out of school or who have been arrested,” Assemblyman Sam Roberts stated. “I support this legislation because it provides economic and employment opportunities to our youth, and strengthens our community and local economy.”

Linda Ervin, Onondaga County Legislator District 19, said, “I commend Senator Gillibrand for promoting the Urban Jobs Act of 2011. Our community needs to create job opportunities, provide training for our young people to develop job skills and case management to follow up with them once they have been trained. I am pleased to see that this initiative has it all plus a built in monitoring system to make certain there has been success as a result of the program. It is a win win situation and I applaud our senator for being in the forefront on this.”

“I applaud Senator Gillibrand for her dedication to this effort.  A chain is only as strong as its weakest link is a proverb that comes to mind when I think about the energy and enthusiasm of our youth, particularly minority males, and the tremendous benefits that could be derived by diverting their energy into skills and services to benefit all, instead of squandering that talent on joblessness and hopelessness.  Thank you Senator and please keep the momentum going,” said Syracuse Common Council President Van B. Robinson.

William Simmons, Executive Director, Syracuse Housing Authority said, “This amendment to the Workforce Investment Act creates a great opportunity for the Syracuse Housing Authority to directly serve so many of our youth who are looking for the skill to enter the job market.”

“Central New York would greatly benefit from funding that creates programs to prepare youth for entry into the job market by offering educational opportunities that lead to employment,” said Assemblyman William B. Magnarelli (D-Syracuse, Geddes, Van Buren).  “I support Senator Gillibrand’s efforts with the Urban Jobs Act of 2011.  Helping youth who are unemployed understand the needs of the ever-modernizing workforce will create a more stable local economy.”

The unemployment rates for certain segments of the youth population are significantly higher than the national average. In many urban communities around the nation, roughly one-third of minority youth are unemployed. Additionally, the labor force participation rate for youth without a high school diploma is about 20 percentage points lower than the labor force participation rate for high school graduates. Here in Syracuse, the high school graduation rate in 2009 was only 50 percent, leaving many former students without the education and training needed to succeed in the workforce.

Lengthy periods of unemployment early in a young person’s work life can have lasting negative effects on future earnings, productivity, and employment opportunities. Developing policies such as those proposed by the Urban Jobs Act would assist youth in acquiring the education and skills necessary for success in the labor market, helping reduce youth unemployment and strengthen the economy.

The Urban Jobs Act would create an Urban Jobs Program that would award competitive grants to national non-profit organizations, in partnership with local affiliates, to provide a holistic approach for preparing youth ages 18 through 24 for entry into the job market. A national organization that received a grant would provide a comprehensive set of services that includes:

  • Case management services to help participants effectively utilize the services offered by the program;
  • Educational programming, including skills assessment, reading and math remediation, educational enrichment, General Education Development (GED) credential preparation, and post-secondary education;
  • Employment and job readiness activities, including mentoring, placement in community service opportunities, internships, on-the-job training, occupational skills training, job placement in unsubsidized jobs, and personal development; and
  • Support services, including health and nutrition referral, housing assistance, training in interpersonal and basic living skills, transportation, child care, clothing, and other assistance as needed.

The Urban Jobs Act would also directs the Secretary of Labor to establish a National Jobs Council Advisory Committee to analyze and advise on the implementation of the Urban Jobs Program, and have successful applicants establish local jobs council advisory committees to aid in establishing community support for local implementation of the program.